Thursday, January 10, 2013

Jon Stewart recently devoted a good bit of the Daily Show to discussing gun control; predictably, the monologues are receiving some mega-respect from the Left. As the L.A. Times reported:
It’s not really about the Constitution, Stewart argued. “A well-regulated militia” does not mean that individuals should be able to stockpile any and all weapons they want. There are plenty of things people can’t buy, like tanks or “surface-to-air anything,” and few people call those restrictions a violation of the 2nd Amendment. So why should we be entitled to assault rifles?

What it really comes down to, Stewart concluded, is the fear of not being able to fight back against a theoretical tyrant like Mao, Stalin or Hitler. As evidence, he played a clip from Alex Jones’ widely circulated appearance on “Piers Morgan Tonight,” in which he warned of another American Revolution if anyone comes after his guns.

He summarized the thinking of people like Jones this way: “Their paranoid fear of a possible dystopic [sic] future prevents us from addressing our actual dystopic [sic] present. We can’t even begin to address 30,000 gun deaths that are actually in reality happening in this country every year because a few of us must remain vigilant against the rise of imaginary Hitler.”
The first example is another strange thing we encounter with anti-gun folks: namely, that there are some restrictions on the types of weapons people can own, ergo "assault rifles" should be banned. Of course, the Second Amendment guarantees a right to bear arms, or things that are easily portable, of which tanks---and almost certainly surface-to-air armaments---are not. So it's not a good comparison. Even if it were a good comparison, such an argument could easily be made elsewhere with unsettling conclusions. After all, we have some restrictions on free speech, ergo, you don't have a right to unlimited free speech, ergo we can ban Internet postings. To start with.

As for the rest of the quote: thirty thousand deaths a year actually factors in suicides and accidents. Homicides really hover around just under twelve thousand a year, which is still high, but it doesn't have the scare value Stewart wants (maybe he wants to outlaw suicide as well). And perhaps most unsettlingly, he seems to mock the people that fear "the rise of imaginary Hitler." Hitler was a pretty bad guy, as were Mao and Stalin. I have a distant family member who still has a camp number tattooed on his forearm, and you can probably without much trouble find folks who survived under the brutal, vicious communist regimes of the 20th century. It's not merely that we gun folks are terrified of a "possible dystopian future;" it's that we've seen the dystopian past and we've afraid of repeating it. So one can inflate the gun death numbers in one's favor, and one can make fun of "imaginary Hitlers," but it seems terribly ahistorical and ignorant to do so.

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